Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, called on Stanford officials to reprimand the students who last week shouted down a speech by a conservative federal judge, as well as fire the administrator who scolded the guest speaker instead of the agitators.
Mr. Cruz said Stanford Law School is “well within its rights to discipline these students for their behavior, and indeed I strongly urge the school to do so.”
“Indeed, failing to identify and discipline the students responsible for this reprehensible conduct will only encourage such behavior in the future,” Mr. Cruz said in a letter Tuesday to the Stanford University president and Stanford Law School dean.
He also blasted the “audacious” actions of Tirien Steinbach, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, who took to the podium Thursday and lectured U.S. District Judge Kyle Duncan for six minutes while insisting that she supported his right to free speech.
“Far from conducting herself in a manner that students should emulate, Assistant Dean Steinbach’s behavior validated the protestors’ disruptive conduct, concluding her statement with ‘I’m glad this is going on here,’” Mr. Cruz said. “Given her demonstrated contempt for the federal bench, guests of the school and your own institution’s policies, I recommend that she is promptly dismissed from her position.”
Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Stanford Law School Dean Jenny Martinez apologized in a Friday letter to Judge Duncan for the melee, saying they were “taking steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again.”
“Our disruption policy states that students are not allowed to ‘prevent the effective carrying out’ of a ‘public event’ whether by heckling or other forms of interruption,” said the Stanford officials’ letter. “In addition, staff members who should have enforced university policies failed to do so, and instead intervened in inappropriate ways that are not aligned with the university’s commitment to free speech.”
Judge Duncan, a Trump appointee, ultimately left the campus event hosted by the Stanford Federalist Society without delivering his remarks. He was escorted by federal marshals who arrived at the scene.
Mr. Cruz, a graduate of Harvard Law School, noted that several federal judges have said they will no longer accept clerkship applications from Yale Law School graduates over free-speech issues, including an incident last year in which students were not disciplined for heckling and shutting down speakers.
“I can only imagine that some judges might be reluctant to offer Stanford Law graduates clerkships in light of the way one of their fellow judges was treated, particularly if the school impliedly blesses such conduct by refusing to discipline the student protestors involved,” Mr. Cruz said.
Mr. Duncan’s speech was titled “The Fifth Circuit in Conversation With the Supreme Court: Covid, Guns and Twitter.”
At the event, students yelled and jeered at the judge, calling him a racist, using profanities and interrupting him when he tried to speak.
Ms. Steinbach stepped in with pre-prepared remarks, telling the judge he was “absolutely welcome in this space,” but asking, “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
She continued: “I mean, is it worth the pain that this causes and the division that this causes? Do you have something so incredibly important to say about Twitter and guns and COVID that is worth this impact on the division of these people who have sat next to each other for years, who are going through what is the battle of law school together, so that they can go out into the world and be advocates?”
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression posted a transcript of the exchange on its website.
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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